Thursday, July 18, 2013

Random Roadtrip ~ Glenwood Canyon

Our trip to Glenwood Springs was filled with beautiful scenery. 

We took Interstate 70 from Denver and headed west. Even though it was mid-May and the trees and lawns were green in Denver, there was still quite a bit of snow in the Vail Pass area. And the trees there hadn't even begun to think about leaves.

As we began to drop down out of the Vail Valley, the vegetation became greener and red sandstone became more prominent in the hillsides.

A landscape very striking with its own sort of beauty.

The further west we traveled the hillsides became more barren and less colorful. The trees were replaced with sagebrush.

It is in this area that Gypsum is mined for sheetrock. It is also here that the Colorado River comes down from the north to join with the Eagle River and become the mighty force which carves out spectacular canyons.

But the 'moonscape' didn't last for long - we could see Glenwood Canyon in the distance.
Glenwood Canyon is a marvel of nature as well as a marvel of modern engineering. The Colorado River carved this gorge over the course of a multitude of eons.

The four-lane interstate which runs through Glenwood Canyon took an almost equally long length of time to complete. Begun in 1975 it wasn't completed until 1992. It was the last segment of the US Interstate road system to be finished.

The biggest challenge the Colorado Dept. of Transportation faced was how to put a four lane freeway into a canyon that was barely wide enough for a two-lane highway with minimal impact on the environment.

The solution was to construct two roadways, one nearly on top of the other - an elevated roadway which includes 40 bridges and viaducts spanning more than six miles between sections. The freeway also houses a state-of-the-art traffic management system which can warn travelers of weather or road conditions or road hazards. Along with a fleet of tow trucks and emergency vehicles available 24/7.

It took over 22 years and $500 million for the planning and execution of this roadway. And still, 21 years later, this section of I-70 is one of the nicest I have been on - and I have traveled some Interstate miles! It melds with the surroundings perfectly!

image source

The separate traffic lanes in no way interfere with the view or traffic flow. Rock formation and landforms were preserved or restored during construction. Blasted rock faces were stained to match the natural exposures.

Rest area buildings are all earth sheltered so they blend in to the environment and to lower energy consumption. And composting toilets require no water.
 A person would have no idea a building was even there until they were right in front of it.

The Interstate follows the contour of the canyon walls on one side and on the other side of the Colorado River are the railroad tracks for the Amtrak passenger train which runs from Denver to Glenwood Springs. (Sounds like Fun!) A bike path also runs the length of the canyon. 

To read more about the Glenwood Canyon roadway, Click Here! Or Click Here!
Next week - REST STOP!


the dogs' mother said...

Okay, this one - Blasted rock faces were stained to match the natural exposures - made my jaw drop!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Very interesting! Love the info about how the highway(s) were constructed.

Next week: Rest Stop? I don't think I can hold it that long!

mrsduncanmahogany said...

What a great tour you took us on just then! I love that red sandstone, reminds me of Mars!

Justine’s Halloween said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justine’s Halloween said...

Hey! I was on those roads a few summers ago when visiting my uncle! Thanks for sharing this info. I enjoyed learning more about the freeway.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful pictures. Thank you so much for sharing !!
Have a great weekend.